where should you go if you prefer not to constantly be subject to angry glares for closing a book too loudly?Aurelia Li

Despite being the strongest advocate for café-studying you could find in Cambridge - evidenced by my very scientific and methodological rating of café study spaces last term - I will admit that I can appreciate the silence and studious atmosphere of libraries sometimes as well. While there’s definitely a case to be made for working in your college library - proximity to your room and hall, welcome distractions in form of friends who can suffer with you and not having to worry about leaving your things at the desk over lunch - I’ve enjoyed trying out different faculty libraries and found each of them to have its own unique vibe. So which library is the best for an intense day of essay cramming? And where should you go if you prefer not to constantly be subject to angry glares for closing a book too loudly?

Haddon Library (Downing Site)

After our initial induction session in week one of first year, I didn’t step foot into the Haddon Library for an entire term. However, a hard-to-find item on my Lent Sociology reading list led me back into the hallowed halls of archaeology and anthropology. Huge tables, practically begging you to spread out all of your notes, a rather relaxed atmosphere for Cambridge standards and arguably the most aesthetic windows and architecture drew me in immediately. But, according to my favorite study partner at least, the Haddon’s real advantage is its ability to make you feel like you’re in Harry Potter even without having to throw on your gown.

MML Library (Sidgwick Site)

Located on Sidgwick Site, the MML library is ideal for a quick hour of work in between lectures or picking up books for humanities students.  For lack of a better (or less generic) word, I’d describe the MML as the most wholesome library in Cambridge. Comfy armchairs, adult coloring books and knit material for a quick break - plus super friendly librarians immediately make you feel as at home as you can in a library! And a personal favorite of mine: its window wall overlooking Sidgwick puts you in a prime position to do some quality people watching in your study break. So next time you’re at Sidgwick after a lecture maybe think twice if you really want to put yourself through a work session filled with judgmental looks you’ll inevitably receive for picking up a book too loudly in the Seeley and consider heading to the MML instead!

Squire Law Library (Sidgwick Site)

Another lovely Sidgwick spot: the Squire Law Library, one of Cambridge’s most modern libraries, offers a completely different atmosphere to some of the others on the list. It’s where I go when I’m feeling a bit sleepy and unmotivated and need the pressure of others working around me to keep me focused. Moreover, its huge windows allow for some of the best lighting, preventing you from taking a quick nap at a dimly lit desk.

SPS Library (New Museums Site)

Free ear plugs to block out any distractions, big tables and a separate study floor, the SPS was my go-to spot last exam term. For anyone who doesn’t want to commit to a trek to Sidgwick but still wants to get out of college for a bit, the SPS is located centrally on New Museums Site. I especially like the fact that the study spaces are tucked away on the second floor, meaning you’re not distracted by students coming in and leaving again or walking around on the hunt for books. SPS is rather small compared to a library like Seeley, so during an especially busy exam term week, you might feel a bit crowded, but usually it’s still no problem to find a cozy spot!   


Mountain View

Leafing through our libraries

With over 100 libraries within the university, most of us probably won’t get around to trying out every study spot in Cambridge. However, after a year - or even a term - it can be nice to switch it up and move to a different environment. For me, that’s meant rediscovering some of my favorite libraries from last Michaelmas after spending the entire last term working in Waterstones and Locker Cafe.

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